If you’ve made it to this article, you’re probably wondering – should you stay in one place in Iceland or move around more?
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When we were researching itineraries for Iceland, we pretty much only found road trip itineraries that had you staying in a different place every night of the trip. While this sounds like an amazing way to see the country, we knew that we wanted a home base during our trip in Iceland.
In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of basing yourself in one place in Iceland. I’ll also talk about some of the issues we ran into when staying in one place during our trip to Iceland.
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What Are The Benefits of Staying In One Place in Iceland?
If you’re traveling to Iceland for the first time, you’re probably wanting to jam-pack as much as possible into your trip. There’s SO much to see in this country that it feels like no amount of time here is enough.
For that reason, many people will road trip around Iceland and stay in a new place every night. However, this style of travel can get exhausting. Constantly packing and unpacking every single night is a total pain. Also, you won’t be able to cook many meals for yourself which means you’ll be paying a lot more for food.
For those reasons, we decided to base ourselves in one place during our week in Iceland. Here are some of the benefits we found from staying in one place and taking day trips:
- We saved a ton of money by staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen the whole time. We could cook breakfast before heading out in the morning, make lunch to pack for the day, and be back to the Airbnb for dinner most nights.
- It was a much easier trip to plan. We didn’t have to worry about coordinating driving times or check-in times for different accommodations every single day.
- We saw all the main attractions and didn’t feel rushed. While there’s still a lot to see in the north of Iceland, most of the attractions are in the South and West. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they felt rushed to get through the whole country in a week. By focusing on one area of the country, we were able to see everything on our list and actually take the time to enjoy it.
Where to Base Yourself in Iceland
After some digging around, we found that most of the main attractions in Iceland are located in the South and Western part of the country.
Golden Circle Area
We decided to book an Airbnb on the Golden Circle in a small town called Reykholt. It turned out to be an amazing decision because we were a short drive from pretty much everything we wanted to see in the country.
Here were some of the distances to the major attractions:
- Gulfoss: 25 minutes
- Reykjavik: 1hr 25m
- Blue Lagoon: 1hr 45m
- Skogafoss: 1hr 35m
Here is a link to the Airbnb that we stayed in. The Airbnb includes two small cabins that are connected by a shared deck. There is a full kitchen, hot tub, basketball court, trampoline, and room for 6 guests.
We were a group of two couples so this was the perfect setup for us. We each had our own space but we could hang out in the larger cabins for meals and games. The hot tub was also amazing to hang out in after a full day of exploring and hiking in Iceland.
Another area in Iceland that has a ton of major attractions is Vík. This town is located about 3 hours east of Reyjkavik.
There are a ton of things to do in the Vík area. Here are a few of our favorite things in this part of Iceland:
- Reynisfjara black sand beach: right in town
- Dyrhólaey to see puffins: 22 minutes
- Vik i Myrdal Church: in town
- Jökulsárlón Glacier: 2hr 20m
- Diamond Beach: 2hr 20m
We made two separate day trips to the Vík area when we were in Iceland. However, I really wish we had booked one or two nights in this area instead. There was a ton to see in this part of the country and we would have saved a ton of time driving.
If you decide to base yourself in the Vík area, there are a ton of great hotels and guesthouses to stay at. One of the top rated accommodations on Booking.com is the gorgeous Hotel Kría. This beautiful hotel was built in 2018 and is only a 5 minute walk from the famous beaches of Vík.
Should You Stay in One Place in Iceland?
As I said above, we spent our entire week in Iceland based in Reykholt on the Golden Circle. We absolutely loved having a home base with a kitchen and plenty of space to spread out.
If you’re staying in Iceland for 5 days or fewer, I highly recommend staying the entire time in one place and taking day trips. I would definitely recommend staying in Reykholt or Reykjavik. You’ll be close to all of the attractions on the Golden Circle, the Blue Lagoon, and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
If you’re spending a week or more in Iceland and you want to see some of the attractions near Vík, I definitely think it’s worth spending a night or two in that area as well. We made it work by taking multiple day trips to that area but we could have saved a lot of driving time by booking a room there instead. I’ve included our full itinerary below so you can see how we did it.
Overall, it’s definitely possible to see most of the main attractions in Iceland even if you base yourself in one place. If you want to cut back on some driving time, I would split your stay into two locations.
Our Iceland Itinerary
Here is an overview of our Iceland itinerary. If you want a more details and travel tips, I have a full post of our one week in Iceland itinerary.
Day 1 in Iceland
We arrived in Iceland at 6:40am. After grabbing our rental car, we headed straight to the Blue Lagoon for a few hours of soaking.
After that, we picked up some groceries and checked in to our Airbnb in Reykholt. We got settled in, took a nap, and then set off to explore a little bit along the Golden Circle.
That first night we visited Gulfoss waterfall and the Geysir Geothermal Area.
Day 2 in Iceland
On our second day in Iceland, we explored Reykjavik and then visited Skógafoss, Gljufrabui, and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls.
Day 3 in Iceland
We took a road trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on day 3. It took about 3 hours to reach the furthest point on the Peninsula.
We visited Arnarstapi, Ingjaldsholskirkja Church, and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall.
Day 4 in Iceland
We started off day four in Iceland with lunch at Frioheimar. It’s a restaurant and tomato greenhouse located on the Golden Circle. From the Airbnb we stayed in, it was only about a 5 minute drive.
After lunch, we visited the Kerid Crater which is also on the Golden Circle.
Later that night, we took a dip in Hrunalaug Hot Springs.
Day 5 in Iceland
On our fifth day in Iceland we visited the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.
This was a 4 hour drive from our Airbnb so we broke up the drive with a stop at Systrakaffi for lunch. I highly recommend this spot for lunch or dinner if you’re in the area!
Day 6 in Iceland
On our last full day in Iceland, we explored Vík.
We started off our day with mochas at Skool Beans Cafe. It’s an adorable little converted school bus that has the nicest staff and most delicious drinks.
Then we visited Vik i Myrdal church and Reynisfjara beach.
Our last stop was Dyrhólaey viewpoint to spot some puffins.
Day 7 in Iceland
Our 7th day in Iceland was spent packing, cleaning our Airbnb, and dropping off our rental car. If we had had more time this day, we probably would have gone for round two at the Blue Lagoon.
As you can see, we were able to do SO MUCH in Iceland even though we stayed in one place the whole time. While we definitely would recommend staying a night or two in Vík if you have the time, it wasn’t 100% necessary for us.
Staying in one place in Iceland can save you money and make planning your trip so much easier.
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